Greinke stellar as Royals defeat Rangers

Greinke stellar in spring debut for Royals

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP)Zack Greinke spent spring training last year working on a changeup and ended up with a 9.21 ERA — then he dominated the regular season and won the Cy Young Award.

What will he do this year now that he’s off to a stellar start?

Greinke allowed one hit over three scoreless innings in his first spring outing and the Royals beat the Texas Rangers 4-2 Friday.

Greinke struck out three and walked none. David Murphy’s two-out first inning single was the only hit he allowed.

“There were opportunities for them to capitalize, but for the most part it was pretty good for the first outing.” Greinke said. “The first outing is usually not good. I probably never had a first good outing before, so that was a little surprising. The changeup was real good.”

Greinke, who had a 2.16 ERA last year, threw mostly fastballs and changeups and needed only 27 pitches, 19 for strikes, in three innings.

“He made it look pretty easy for his first outing,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said. “He was very efficient. He didn’t have any trouble getting through three frames.”

Hillman said there was no thought of sending Greinke out for the fourth even though his pitch count was low.

“I hate to say this because you love that efficiency, but from a stamina and building arm strength, you might want to see a few more pitches than that,” Hillman said. “I feel sure we can get him where he needs to be.”

Greinke, the perfectionist, listed four mistakes he made.

“The first pitch of the game should have been hit harder,” he said of the pitch Julio Borbon popped out to shortstop. “It was a pitch to hit. I threw a pitch to (Nelson) Cruz that really was not a bad pitch, but during the season he hits. But he grounded out on it. Their shortstop (Elvis Andrus), I threw a ball where he probably likes it. He missed it because it’s early. I hung a change up to Murphy and he did a good a job of hitting.”

Scott Feldman, a 17-game winner last season with the Rangers, gave up one run and three hits in two innings to take the loss. Billy Butler’s double in the first scored David DeJesus for the only run off Feldman.

Rick Ankiel tripled in the fourth and scored on Alberto Callaspo’s sacrifice fly for Kansas City’s second run. Scott Thorman contributed a two-run pinch single in the eighth.

Nelson Cruz and Max Ramirez drove in the Rangers’ runs.

Royals backup catcher Manny Pina left in the eighth after being hit by a pitch in the right arm from Neftali Feliz. Hillman said Pina had a bad bruise.